The Little Train of the Caipira

July 12 2014

O trenzinho do caipira: a country train transporting coffee berry-pickers and farm labourers between villages in São Paulo state, 1930. The last movement, also called Toccata, of the second Bachianas brasileiras by Villa-Lobos.

I would have despised this in my more idealistic youth. Now I admire it, though there is nothing very Bachian in it. The tune sounds like a Brazilian folk melody, but I have never heard it called one. Caipira means bush-cutter or inhabitant of the rural backlands. Whence caipirinha.

I hope the Brazilians can do better tonight. People say there is no incentive in this game, but for them there is.

Royal Philharmonic, Enrique Arturo Diemecke. Picture is of the composer.

Version conducted by composer, Orchestre national de la Radiodiffusion française, 1956.

Portinari’s paintings of coffee workers.

Station, SP, 1885

Cruzeiro, São Paulo state, late nineteenth century

One Response to “The Little Train of the Caipira”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    There must be Brazilians who are irritated at the automatic mention of V-L when one wants to say something about highbrow Brazil. Just as we are when Germans seem to one-quarter “get” Britain. But as far as music goes, he does tower over the rest. I like Guarnieri, Nobre etc, but they aren’t his equals.

    Most people who don’t approach modern Brazilian culture through music will do so through architecture.


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